The place to start an Arabic conversation

ALCASA offers the Monthly Conversation Sessions where this year members have had the opportunity to practise conversing around various topics with native speaker volunteers.

These sessions were facilitated in small groups according to participants’ proficiency level and choice of language (Fusha or ‘Ammiya). This year, the topic of conversation was often related to the themes in the Cultural Workshops which were conducted beforehand.

ALCASA’s Monthly Conversation Sessions support ALCASA’s mission to share the Arabic language and promote cultural awareness. It creates an opportunity for South Australians of Arabic and non-Arabic speaking backgrounds to come together and build bridges for respect and harmony.

ALCASA also hopes that these sessions sustain the interest of Arabic language learners to continue developing their language proficiency.

Sue, a long-time member of ALCASA says that these sessions are useful. “The Arabic conversation sessions are beneficial for learners to practise speaking out loud in front of others. The native Arabic speakers can correct our pronunciation and give an insight into the differences in pronunciation.”

July 2016 Monthly Conversation Session

July 2016 Monthly Conversation Session

“As a learner, I always get a little nervous and feel out of my comfort zone but it is something that must be done in order to eventually become more proficient at speaking the language,” she added.

In addition to the Monthly Conversation Sessions, ALCASA hosts Arabic classes for adults.

Alison, an advanced learner of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) says the lessons are taught in a challenging and tailored way using a variety of topics. Jackie, another advanced learner of MSA learner says the instruction is quite thorough and finds it useful that the lessons are targeted for each student.

“I have had Arabic instruction in the Middle East and in universities and privately but this class in Adelaide is excellent in comparison. It covers all the important aspects, listening, writing, and speaking, and reinforcing those skills through practice,” says Jackie.

But for learners of the Arabic language, Sue who is also an intermediate learner of the Levantine dialect, has some advice for learning the language:  “I love listening to Arabic but just listening does not help me become fluent – all areas have to be given equal time – listening, reading, writing and, most of all, speaking and working it out yourself.”

Hafiz Abdul Nasir


June’s Arabic Session and the Arabic Music Workshop

On 19/06, we launched the ALCASA Arabic Cultural Workshops with a special session presented by the talented South Australian musician and teacher Charlie Yarak. About 34 participants attended the music workshop. A number of families came earlier to the Arabic Story Reading time with the ALCASA’s Children’s Group and more than 12 adults stayed after the workshop for the Language Exchange session.

We have received this testimonial that we would love to share with you:

13445374_1327711987257231_3335223393641204035_n“We were delighted to attend the ALCASA Language Exchange on Sunday the 19th of June. The music workshop was a highlight for us, where the talented presenter, showed and explained a range of Arabic instruments and demonstrated how they are used in Arabic music and culture. He completed his presentation with an entertaining performance that left us wanting to hear more. The group were very friendly and as beginner Arabic Language learners we felt very supported in our learning during the Language Exchange session. We worked around activities that were appropriate to our language ability level. The afternoon was enlightening and enjoyable.”

Mary & Andrew McMaster




ALCASA Monthly Session, 17/4/2016

What a great session we had on Sunday 17 April with an eclectic mix ALCASA Children's Group, 17/04/2016of people from Arabic speaking cultures, along with others from various backgrounds and a range of ages. The native Arabic speakers are such a help to those of us learning Arabic.  Thank you so much!

After fun and games with the children, we adults took turns to introduce ourselves in Arabic, and shared about where we live, our work and what we like.  We had a few newcomers, so this was helpful. Then we moved into smaller groups to work through Arabic dialogue – this month it was about going to the movies. It is a relaxed atmosphere where native Arabic speakers get to share their own language and we learners get to practice speaking Arabic. 

This is perhaps the most difficult part of learning a new language – having the confidence to actually speak it, but our Arabic friends are very patient with us.  Don’t be afraid to come along and join these sessions – learning Arabic is not easy but the more you know about it, the more you realise that it is a very rich and beautiful language.  And it is not just about learning Arabic, it is about sharing and celebrating our different cultures.

By Sue Young

Introduction to Arabic – Free Workshop!


I’m pleased to inform you that there will be a free ‘Introduction to Arabic’ workshop for anyone who is interested to learn the Arabic sounds and letters in a fun and friendly environment. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of Arabic. You will also gain cultural insight about the Arabic speaking communities around the world and in Australia!

The workshop will be held on February 13th 2016, Saturday morning, 10am-12pm at Adelaide City Library (Francis St, Off Rundle Mall).

Places are limited so book now!

After the workshop, we won’t leave you hanging! We know some of you would like to continue your journey in learning Arabic and so, we would like to invite interested participants to join in the Beginners class every third Sunday of each month from 5-6pm. It’s free for ALCASA members and workshop participants are not obligated to join these monthly sessions.

Beginner students of Arabic are welcomed to join these monthly Beginner sessions by writing to

I hope to see you at the workshop on Feb 13th!


August ALCASA Conversation Session

It was great to see twenty six participants attending the August Arabic conversation session on 4/08. To ALCASA Committee’s delight, almost all stayed to participate in an open forum after the session to discuss future activities and to choose the Association’s logo.

As scheduled, the three conversation groups (Beginners, Advanced and Family/Children) worked separately in the first hour of the session, and then we all listened to the graphic designer, illustrator and artist Ahmed el Khalidi who kindly offered an insight into his beautiful art work and shared his artistic journey and inspiration. Twenty one adults and four children remained until about 5 pm discussing as a group, tidying the place and catching up with new friends they met in previous Arabic conversation meetings. It was hard to believe that most of the participants did not know each other a couple of sessions earlier in 2013. It was really rewarding to feel the participants’ support to ALCASA’s course of action. Indeed, there was a need to create a network of people with a shared interest in the Arabic Language and Culture and we have just started a successful one!Children_2013-08-04 15.12.37

Personally I was very touched when I saw the four children enjoying singing together in Arabic and presenting the Arabic words they have just learnt. Many thanks to all for valuing the children’s effort in learning Arabic and special thanks to the parents and friends who are helping in the children’s group (Hassan, Jodie, Rana and Rua). Listening and showing interest in their performance helps children to become more confident in learning a language that is so different from English. Even though, the participating children have each at least one parent who speaks Arabic, it may be hard to justify sometimes the use of Arabic at home when almost no one other than mum or dad speaks it in the immediate environment. We congratulate the parents for their determination to teach their children valuable skills by learning other languages.Advanced_2013-08-04 14.31.17

The Advanced group had a slightly different routine than usual. We all listened and discussed thoroughly Hassan’s creative description of his late mother in a letter he wrote to his sister, and we also practiced describing people. The much appreciated presence of Hamdi and Ahmed helped in forming three discussion groups and it sounds like we will be able to do the same in future sessions. An interest in starting an Intermediate group was confirmed, and hopefully we will be able to form such a group in the near future. Beginners2013-08-04 14.33.55

The Beginners’ group learned new words and expressions to speak about city places and to ask for/describe directions. Many thanks to Hayan for his continuous generous contribution and support and well done to the participants for their persistence in studying Arabic! The monthly conversation sessions can only complement  the participants’ efforts in learning at their own pace. Also, very special thanks to Nicole who is not in the photo as she was the photographer! Ahmed2_2013-08-04 15.27.00

Each time the cultural presentation is allowing us to explore a new aspect of the Arabic culture. Ahmed’s artistic journey was an insightful reflection on a complex identity as an uprooted Palestinian, a migrant and a world traveller. Growing up in Kuwait, living in Jordan, traveling around the world to study and work, living in Sydney and now in Adelaide, Ahmed presented a dense experience that shaped his exceptional visual memory and artistic expression. His warm colours, rich collage, mixture of text and visuals make us look deep inside in a search for our own identity. Many thanks Ahmed for your presentation and for the terrific logo design you have offered to ALCASA.

All the above were brightened with a casual friendly atmosphere, paced with a generous afternoon tea put together spontaneously with a number of members bringing in something to go with a warm cuppa. Each time we discover new popular Middle Eastern flavours introducing some to Arabic homemade snacks and in a way helping others to confirm a belonging to a world-wide homeland with an ever expanding identity.

We hope the group will continue to attract new participants and to earn the interest of more local native speakers of Arabic to help in sharing the rich heritage of the Arabic language, literature, movies, music, arts and social practices. To join in and for more details about upcoming sessions, please write to ALCASA Committee at

Fayrouz Ajaka


July ALCASA Conversation Session

The July ALCASA gathering offered a wonderful experience for all present and a special treat for the senses. We were entertained by the classic Arab sounds of Hayan on the “derbake” and had the joy of seeing the young children describe in Arabic how they made play-dough. We were also lucky enough to taste the sweet and savoury flavours of the Middle East with some delicious “harissa”, “ghraybe”, “labne” and “zaytoon” – new flavours for some and a taste of home for others. But the highlight of the session was feeling the rhythms of the group dancing the “dabke” to Hayan’s “derbake” beat.

In the advanced group, Richard shared historic photos from Cairo in Egypt where his Armenian grandparents lived . Richard’s grandfather was a well known photographer who owned a studio in the heart of Cairo. The photos were taken in the thirties to the fifties last century and presented a rich testimony of the urban design of Cairo as well as giving a glimpse on how Egyptian urban lifestyle evolved in that era. Richard kept the conversation flowing in Arabic during his presentation and responded to many questions while sharing what seemed to be an endless stream of photos that I am sure everyone would love to see again. It was fantastic to see some new faces in the advanced group and the number of articulate second language learners continues to surprise and impress the Association.

There were some new faces in the children’s group as well, with a lovely young family joining the other kids in learning and consolidating some basic vocabulary to do with every-day food items, It is rewarding to see young children engaging in the language and more importantly hearing Arabic spoken fluently by adult role models. The children made play-dough and the vocabulary was based on the basic ingredients and staples of flour, salt, water and oil; adding food colouring allowed them to consolidate their knowledge of colours in Arabic and they bravely gave a brief presentation to the whole group once they had finished.

The beginners group continued to expand their vocabulary and comprehension by exploring the family home and discussing words, phrases and questions associated with the topic. Congratulations to the beginners who continue to be persistent and dedicated to embracing the Arabic language and culture despite the challenges that obviously come with learning a new language.

After our 5th session, it is fantastic to see a large group of regular, familiar faces attending the sessions and a steady stream of new members signing up, with two new members this month. We feel privileged to be able to share our language and culture to the South Australian community and appreciate the support we have been given thus far, not only from our new and existing members, but also from the local SBS radio and the generous grant from the Multicultural Grants Scheme to support the establishment and growth of ALCASA.

We would love to see you, your friends and families at our next session in August.  You are very welcome to come along and join us, no matter what level of background, interest or experience you have. For more information contact